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Comforting Words From Six Mums Who Know Best


Comforting Words From Six Mums Who Know Best

Mothers Day

by Sasha Aarons

Courtney Adamo and family, captured by Kara Rosenlund.

Courtney Adamo and family, captured by Kara Rosenlund.

Courtney adamo, bangalow, nsw

What have you learned from your Mum that remains with you today?

My Mum has never been a worrier. There has always been a lightness and a sense of optimism to the way she lives, which is something that has rubbed off on me. She’s also always been fastidious about good manners and good grammar. I know it seems silly, but I’m grateful for it now.

What is something you say to comfort your kids in tricky times?

There’s nothing specific I say. I think each kid and each circumstance calls for its own approach. Generally speaking though, I think it’s about being open to any of their questions, concerns or needs, then providing them with honesty, a sense of security, a familiar rhythm and a feeling of being held. We don’t have a TV and we don’t play live radio in the car, so they are spared the doom and gloom of the 24-hour news cycle. When times are tricky, we want to be their source of information, presenting it in a balanced way, with perspective, hope and positivity. I’m also a big believer in the restorative power of mother nature. Whenever we’re feeling down, whatever the reason, a trip to the beach or the woods brings us right back up.

What kind of world do you hope your children will inherit?

I hope our kids will inherit a world that is open and interconnected, with people and ideas moving freely for the benefit and equality of all. I hope for a world where we are conscious of our every imprint on the earth and we prioritise the planet’s need over our personal wants. And it would be awesome if self-driving electric cars were commonplace before they are old enough to drive!

What are you optimistic about right now?

My kids going back to school! Haha. Kidding (sort of). There’s a lot of bad happening in the world right now, and people are suffering in ways I can’t even comprehend, but I hope this collective pause has awakened in us a deeper sense of appreciation for what is most important. This is a historic event and unusual in that it is impacting virtually everyone on the planet in some way. I’m hopeful that moving forward, we will all be more conscious of how our actions, big and small, impact the planet and ourselves. I know we will not be returning to life as usual when it’s all over.

Is everything going to be okay?

I always like to think so! It is my personality (or perhaps a coping mechanism) to try to find the silver lining in every situation, even when things seem really challenging or depressing. I have five children — I have to think the future is bright!

Courtney Adamo is an author, entrepreneur and the co-founder of  Babyccino Kids. She is also the mother to five children! Following the release of her first wildly popular e-course, Courtney has just this week released ‘In The Loop : Blossom‘, a 3-week e-course on pregnancy, birth and the first year. Check it out here!

Melbourne textile designer Cassie Byrnes with her gorgeous bub Lottie. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.

Melbourne textile designer Cassie Byrnes with her gorgeous bub Lottie. Photo by Annika Kafcaloudis.

Cassie Byrnes, Melbourne, VIC

What’s something you learned from your Mum that remains with you today?

Definitely resilience. My Mum has had a pretty rough run in life, which is easy to forget because she is so warm and loving and just gets on with it (as Mums tend to do). In my older age (and since becoming a Mum) I now understand how difficult some of the setbacks must have been, and how she did totally amazing things while raising four kids.

What is something you tell your kids in tricky times?

Well, Lottie is only seven months old, so to her tricky times really just consist of trying to sit up in her sleeping bag or managing to grip on to her pear slices with her tiny slippery fingers…. so I just cheer her on like, ‘You can do it girl, get that pear!’.

What kind of world do you hope your children will inherit?

This is a very big question! For a couple of years I did have a few worries about bringing someone new into a world that I felt was changing for the worse in many ways. But, I was way too maternal to follow through with it, so I guess you win, hormones.

I think we also need to understand that while at this exact moment in time it might be hard to see through the gloom at big picture level, we are still in control of our well-being and destiny and have the chance to use this time to create the future we want.

Closer to home, I really just want her to feel like she can do and be anything she wants, and feel confident enough to find out what that is. If she can take on that spirit then I reckon she’s got a good shot at handling the world in whatever state it’s in when she grows up.

What are you optimistic about right now?

So much. That’s what the baby bubble will do to you! We have looked at this isolation time as something kind of special, one we will always look back on as a time when the three of us were home with each other 24/7, and Lottie has benefitted from so much attention from us! As I learn the ropes of Mum-hood I’m feeling more confident and nurturing than I’ve ever been, and a lot less stressed, because, well, who even has time to stress about anything anymore? If you put all the fears aside and just stop to look at this little human who is genuinely thrilled just to be a part of the world everyday, it’s hard not to feel the same way.

Is everything going to be okay?

One hundred percent. Yes there’s lots of people hurting now, and it’s sad to think there will be more of that to come. But you know, we owe it to them and ourselves to try and find the positivity in all this. I’ve seen neighbours and friends come together in amazing ways lately. My group chats, Mums groups, customers DMs and daggy Zoom trivia nights all help to remind me that it’s the people in your life that really make up your world, and as long as they’re still around of course everything is going to be ok. And if you ever feel like things won’t be, remember to reach out to someone.

Cassie Byrnes is a freelance textile + surface designer. You can shop her latest collection of designs here (and listen to Lucy’s chat with her on TDF Talks Podcast here!).

Curator and writer Hetti Kemerre Perkins with her daughter, actress Madeleine Madden. Photo – Alisha Gore.

Hetti Perkins, Sydney, nsw

What does Mother’s Day mean to you?

Mothering or being a mother or Mum means different things to different cultures and communities. For instance, in Arrernte ways you have a number of mothers, and the immediate responsibility to care for a child extends generationally to grandparents and others. Or there’s the ‘Paris is burning’ version of motherhood in the drag community epitomized by RuPaul Charles!

I have been called Mum ‘instinctively’ by some very young children who have come into my home just because they maybe needed a Band Aid and a hug, or were hungry and must have identified me as their best bet for getting those needs sorted! I am also called Mum by some adult kiddos who need the grown up version of a Band Aid or a hug!

As a parent and as a someone who is blessed to be called Mum by a number of people, it’s a day for being grateful for all my ‘children’ who trust me enough to love and be loved; and to be grateful to those people who have helped my kids grow up. So, it’s a day for taking time out to acknowledge all those people – regardless of their biological relationship or gender – who have grown you up.

What’s something you learned from your Mum that remains with you today?

My mum Eileen is awesome, and sometimes infuriating! Me and my kids call her Naughty Nanna and she still constantly surprises us with her tricks and unconventional ways! To this day, marrying my father was probably her best unconventional ‘trick’. My Arrernte and German grandmothers – who couldn’t have come from more ‘opposite’ sides of Australian society yet found common ground and an enduring respect and friendship – continue to inspire me. An early memory I have of my childhood in Alice Springs is Nanna Hetti’s fiercely loyal dog only deigning to also lay his head on Nanna Laura’s lap.

One thing that has stuck with me, was my Mum drilling me in the value of learning history to better understand our world and our place in it – and our responsibility to future generations.

What is something you tell your kids in times of hardship?

We’re all in this together and together we’ll get through it.

What are you optimistic about right now?

Last year we welcomed a little rescue kitten into our family on Mother’s Day. It’s been the gift that keeps on giving, watching Raven grow and flourish despite a hard start in life.

Otherwise it’s art, always! Artists of all genres and ages give me strength. Their creativity has a palpable effect on my mental and physical wellbeing. For instance, Hayley Mary’s brilliant EP ‘The Piss, the Perfume’ is on my high rotation playlist at the moment and I recommend it to any readers needing a dose of good medicine – or gift ideas!

What kind of world do you hope your children will inherit?

A common ground governed by the principle of the common good.

Is everything going to be okay?

It will be if we collectively keep our eye on the ball – and by ball I mean this big, beautiful globe we call home, Earth.

Hetti Kemerre Perkins is a curator and writer. Read our interview with her and her daughter, actress Madeleine Madden, here.

Designer Jenny Kee with her daughter, literary agent Grace Heifetz.  Photo – Courtesy of Mimco.

Jenny Kee, Blackheath, NSW

What’s something you learned from your Mum that remains with you today?

Mum was always so incredibly generous and was a true giver, and I never think of her without thinking of her generosity.  She was a fanatical cleaner and I have really inherited that trait – I loved this about her.  It goes without saying that she had amazing style and was a natural fashionista, and we shared this love of clothes, design and style.

What is something you tell your kids in tricky times?

All things will pass.

What kind of world do you hope your children will inherit?

The Coronavirus has taught us to think more about our world and our environment. I hope that our children will inherit a simpler world, where our focus will be on the abundance of nature, where animals are not extinct, where the sky is blue and we hear the birds sing and our oceans and rivers run clean.  A world where the environment is more important than the economy – a world where we live simply so others may simply live.

What are you optimistic about right now?

I am optimistic about my property that was ravaged by fires and the regeneration is glorious.

Is everything going to be okay?

While nature has the upper hand everything will be ok, as she is our Mother – the greatest Mother of all.

Jenny Kee is an artist, fashion designer and environmental activist. See her work and collections here

Julia Busuttil Nishimura with new baby boy Yukito! Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura, Fitzroy, VIC

What have your learned from your mum that remains with you today?

The importance of showing kindness and having empathy for others.

What is something you say to comfort your kids in tricky times?

We like to keep it light at home but my eldest is 4 so sometimes he’s heard something at kinder or caught a snippet of a conversation. I listen to what his fears are and label them. I think it’s really important to reassure him that things are ok and that he’s safe, that it’s ok to feel sad or scared or whatever he is feeling, but that we’re here for him.

What kind of world do you hope your children will inherit?

I hope my children will inherit a kind world where people look out for each other. A world where the leaders care for ALL – people and nature.

What are you optimistic about right now?

Even though it can be overwhelming when people say the ‘new normal’ I am hopeful that we will return to travel, and family gatherings and hugging friends. I am optimistic that this time has helped many of us to slow down and appreciate the small joys we usually take for granted.

Is everything going to be okay?

It is sad that so much life has been lost and many have lost jobs and businesses and many of us are feeling lonely. It’s been a pretty hectic year. Between this and the bushfires, anxiety levels feel heightened all around, but I do think we will come out the other side stronger and more intertwined as a community.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura is a cook, author and beloved TDF Food columnist! 

Yumi Stynes with her partner Martin, and children ‘Man Baby’, Mercy, Dee Dee and Anouk. Photo – Katherine Millard for The Design Files.

Yumi Stynes, Sydney, NSW

What have your learned from your Mum that remains with you today?

My Mum used to say that your physical space is a reflection of your soul. So if your room is in utter disarray, there’s a strong chance your spirituality is, too.

What is something you say to comfort your kids in tricky times?

I used to sing the song “Go to sleep” with our own made-up lyrics – “Go to sleep, go to sleep, you are warm and protected, you are safe, you are loved, bed is soft so – nigh nigh!” Now they’re a bit bigger (4, 5, 15 and 18) so I’m not singing to them as much, but when one of them is having a freak out, the first thing I try to do is listen so they can tell me their fears or what’s going on, then in my own words I repeat what they’ve said back to them so they know I understand. To the little one I might say, “You’re scared – and fair enough! You’re safe. Come here. You’re safe. You’re going to be okay.” To the biggest one I might say, “You’re upset – and fair enough! You’re safe. You’re going to be okay.” It helps to remember that they don’t necessarily want advice, they just want to share.

What kind of world do you hope your children will inherit?

I hope the kids will inherit a world where there’s free universal healthcare and where nature hasn’t been completely destroyed. I really hope there’s an upcoming generation of girls, women and non-binary people out there who are inspired to enter politics because they’ve had a gutful of the monocultural vested-interest wankers we seem to keep putting in charge. I hope basics like bananas and bees don’t become extinct during their lifetimes. I hope they never experience war or famine. But at the moment I just hope they get a chance to live to old age.

What are you optimistic about right now?

I’m optimistic that people have seen that real, systemic and gigantic change is possible. I’m optimistic that when everything else is terrible, art and music still has the power to elevate the soul.

Is everything going to be okay?

One of the things I do for pleasure and relaxation is I cook and nut out new recipes. I do this so much that I tend to have a surplus of food and drop parcels of the latest yummy ridiculous thing to my friends. I have a loop of people I drive around to, dropping off food as gestures of love, solidarity and community. This week I pretty much worked out the most spectacularly perfect recipe for Creamy Chicken Soup. It’s been a work in progress for many years but I actually think I can stop trying to perfect it now because it is, in fact, perfect. So. I don’t know if everything is going to be okay but I do know that there can be comfort in sticking up for and showing kindness to people who need it, and sometimes that is the best that we can do. Until we burn the whole fucking thing down.

Yumi Stynes is an author, presenter and broadcaster. Her award-winning ABC podcast Ladies, We Need To Talk just launched their fourth season. The next episode is about women working at the front line of coronavirus, and is out on May 19th.



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